Thursday, 3 November 2011

Review round-up for October 2011...

Righty, October 2011 saw me see experience a number of titles for the first time so I thought I'd whip out my review round-up for the month.

For Films, I subscribe to a 5 star rating system, for television series a 10 point scale, whereas with games I adopt a 100-scale 0.0/10 rating system. Why? Because I do, these seem to be the most universally accepted forms of rating for the respective mediums so I shall be adopting them.

So, without further ado...

GAME - FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS (Playstation 3)
An assured, marked improvement on Fallout 3 which benefits from a much more malleable storyline with far greater ambiguity and impact with the decisions and choices you make throughout the game. The New Vegas strip itself adds a welcome dash of colour and vitality to the more familiar Mohave desert (almost identical mostly to the Capital Wasteland from Fallout 3) and a myriad of new gameplay improvements, including a much-needed boon to melee weapons, makes this the most accomplished, entertaining, streamlined and rounded Fallout title currently available. There are occasional glitches (though these seem to vary considerably from person to person) but never did they inhibit my enjoyment of what is a thoroughly absorbing and expansive RPG.
(A)musings Rating - 9. 5

GAME - BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (Playstation 3)
Arkham City follows on from it's brilliant 2009 predecessor and ramps up the ante in practically every department. The titular locale acts as a sandbox around which The Dark Knight encounters a number of foes both old and new and attempts to unravel the truth behind the antics of both The Joker and the enigmatic Hugo Strange especially. Practically every element of gameplay has been improved to some extent, and the immersion of gliding, diving and exploring your way around Arkham City never loses its appeal. The production values are incredible, and once again the voice acting is nothing short of stellar, with particular credit to Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill again stealing the show as The Joker. As with Arkham Asylum, the plot fails to materialise into anything substantial, and some of the villains are criminally underused (if you'll forgive the pun) but the occasional breaks to Catwoman provide a refreshing alternative to proceedings. 
(A)musings Rating -  9. 4

FILM - THE LION KING 3D (Cinema Re-Release)
Disney's animated masterpiece returns to cinemas as the first of a planned series of re-releases from the studios' renaissance during the 1990's. Arguably one of the finest releases of that era, The Lion King remains as moving, entertaining and effective as it did then, with the animation, score and soundtrack as mesmerising as they were upon first viewing. A return to viewing at the cinema amongst company reminds one of how much humour is sprinkled throughout the film, though never does it overwhelm the almost shakespearean majesty and drama of the core plot, and the two most impressive set-pieces, the 'circle of life' opening and the devastating Wildebeest stampede, are still capable of taking your breath away, or at the very least raising a few goosebumps. The addition of 3D does very little, if anything, to improve the viewing experience, and in fact the 3D process sometimes causes a de-saturation or dulling of colours compared to watching a 2D high-definition viewing of the film, so don't feel obliged to cash in on the trend as this is to this day a gorgeous example of beautiful animation and has lost none of its quality or impact in the 17 years since it first hit the screen.
(A)musings Rating - * * * * *

The Paranormal Activity series are gradually going down the annual-release route of the Saw series, ironically a series which these films helped to run into the ground financially. It isn't difficult to see why - each instalment in this trilogy (though don't expect it to end there) have been made on minuscule budgets and each has reaped amazing box office as a result, so it's not surprising to see them becoming a yearly fixture around Halloween. What's encouraging is that, whilst naturally the premise and signature of the series does not have the surprise factor it once held, there is still nonetheless some occasionally effective scares and generally an ominous, eery tension that keeps an audience involved and gradually builds throughout, leading up to its disturbing and unsurprisingly less-than-subtle final act. In terms of narrative this is a prequel to the first two instalments, where we go back to the childhoods of the series central characters' Katie and Kristi and see the events that were only briefly and unclearly alluded to in the first two films. In regards to the series over-arching narrative, this is definitely a side-step and a pitstop of sorts before we no doubt return to present day in the next instalment in 2012 and find out exactly what Katie has done with that poor baby... until then, Paranormal Activity 3 will do exactly what you expect it to do and is precisely the film you should expect from the series - certainly nothing more, but thankfully (for a third instalment) nothing less.
(A)musings Rating - * * * 

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